March 2009


Betsy Kalin.

I wrote this story for the second issue of “Brooklyn & Boyle,” a monthly magazine about Art & Life in Boyle Heights and Beyond. It was originally published in December of 2008.

When Connecticut transplant Betsy Kalin was approached to make a documentary on Boyle Heights, nothing in her activist and filmmaking background had prepared her for the obstacles ahead: “Boyle Heights is the richest area that I’ve ever been in contact with,” Kalin confesses after two years of total immersion in the neighborhood’s history, past and current. “How do you choose one amongst the million great stories? That was the biggest struggle.”

Her starting point was photographer and entrepreneur Eric Waterman, who originated the project and produced it. “It has such resonance for him because his family is from Boyle Heights,” says Kalin. Even though Waterman’s parents left in the 1940’s and Eric was raised in the valley, his family would talk about Boyle Heights all the time and would often bring him back to visit. This is a story Kalin would hear time and again as she began researching the neighborhood. “People who lived in Boyle Heights in the 20’s are still going back and feel a strong attachment to it, and people who live there now share the same passion,” Kalin remarks. “I don’t hear people in my neighborhood say ‘I was raised in West Hollywood, what a great place!’ Why does Boyle Heights have this power that other neighborhoods don’t have?”

Kalin found answers in the friendships of 50 plus years featured in the film: Floyd Jeter, the first African American to receive a track USC scholarship in 1955, and his Russian Molokan neighbor Bill Novikoff; Marsha Vasquez, Momo Yoshima and Dian Harrison, three women activists who met at Belvedere Junior High School. Kalin even captures on camera 89 year-old Japanese American Cedrick Shimo‘s visit to his old home. Forced to leave their house after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Cedrick’s family was sent to internment camps never to return to Boyle Heights to live. Saul Ines, a 30-year old Mexican American Cal Arts student who now lives in the house with his parents, welcomes Cedrick home and the men instantly bond over their shared upbringing.


Cedrick and Saul’s first meeting. Photo by Martha Nakagawa.





Continuing in its mission to explore new and original ways to present theatre for Los Angeles, Theatre Unleashed is excited to announce the launch of yet another new series. “Tales of an Unsettled City: Beginnings” marks the company’s first true venture into late-night theatre with 10:30 p.m. shows on four special Saturday nights—March 21, March 28, April 11 and April 18—at the Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center in North Hollywood.

A collection of seven short vignettes that are cleverly intertwined with music and choreography, “Tales of an Unsettled City: Beginnings” explores both the comedic and dramatic adventures that follow once people take the risk (or fate decides to push them) to leave their comfortable surroundings and start a new journey in a new environment.

The show features seven original pieces: “Moving On” is a reflective poem about a young man on a bus trip having second thoughts about leaving his small home town. “Stateside Girls” features two siblings, one facing the fear of flying and leaving the Philippines, while the other looks forward to a new life in New York. “Once Upon an F’ing Island” is a comedic piece about how two opposites will get along now that they’re stranded on a desert island. “Blue Bikini” features a young man reminiscing about the one who got away while she reminisces about the one who never took a chance. “Just Another Night in Donegal” watches closely as a woman spends her final night in a cold, unfurnished home coping with the madness that is enveloping her. “Last Dance” follows a young man as he chases the girl he loved and lost only to see her finally find her true love…dancing. “Stuffed Grape Leaves” is a humorously poignant piece about how we deal with people who come from different ethnic and social backgrounds.

For more information, go to



CAPT is a LIVE retro-influenced variety show built around radio show-style readings of mid-century comic book stories. The evening also includes art, short multi-media acts, prizes, live music from the house band – The Noble Gasses, and on March 27 and 28, an appearance by screen legend Tallulah Bankhead, fresh from Hollywood Hell, dahling! Tinsel Town is the theme of the Hooray for Hollywood Extravaganza celebrating “The Industry” and its glamorous hometown, Los Angeles.

Captured Aural Phantasy Theater’s Hooray for Hollywood Extravaganza invites the audience to walk the red carpet in the place where Hollywood history was made – the elegant Alexandria Hotel. It was the place to be in film’s golden age of the 20’s and 30’s. The Hooray for Hollywood Extravaganza pays its respects with a Hollywood detective story and tales of starry-eyed dreamers working to make it on the Big Screen!

Fridays & Saturdays March 20, 21, 27, & 28 @ 8pm

Tix $10

The King Edward Ballroom at The Alexandria Hotel – 2nd Floor 501 S. Spring St. 5th & Spring in Beautiful Downtown Los Angeles 90013


Heron at the LA River found at

Dear Readers, I am absolutely thrilled that my return to the blogging world coincides with new exciting works from  Cornerstone:

LA River lovers! Join us on Tuesday, March 24 for a reading of Flow, a play about the Los Angeles River, written by Julie Hébert. The latest play in Cornerstone’s Justice Cycle, Flow is a work-in-progress that explores environmental justice through the lens of the LA River and the communities that live, work and play along it. Date and Time: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 7-10pm Location: Farmlab @ the Metabolic Studios 1745 Spring Street, Unit 4 Los Angeles, CA 90012. A community partner for Flow, Farmlab is the team behind downtown LA’s Not a Cornfield project, an art installation back in 2005-2006. As a think tank, art production studio, and cultural performance venue, Farmlab is a short-term multi-disciplinary investigation of land use issues that are related to sustainability, livability, and health. For more information on Farmlab, click here.

Cornerstone’s Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras, a theater troupe made up of day laborers, will be holding several performances at work sites all across the greater Los Angeles area over the next two weeks.

See below for specific dates, times and locations. Come show your support!

Monday, March 16 @ 8am
Union/Wilshire Job Center
1675 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Tuesday, March 17 @ 9am
Pasadena Job Center
500 N. Lake Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101

Wednesday, March 18 @ 9am
Cypress Park Job Center
2055 N. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Thursday, March 19 @ 9am
Downtown Job Center
1813 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Monday, March 23 @ 9am
Hollywood Job Center
5569 W. DeLongpre Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Thursday, March 26 @ 8:30am
Harbor City Job Center
PCH & Figueroa Pl.
Harbor City, CA  90744

Friday, March 27 @ 9:30am
West LA Job Center
11299 W Exposition Blvd.
West LA, CA 90064

Click here for more information about the performances.